In The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, editors Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton present the definitive collection of black verse in the United States200 years of vision, struggle, power, beauty, and triumph from 52 outstanding poets.
From the neoclassical stylings of slave-born Phillis Wheatley to the wistful lyricism of Paul Lawrence Dunbar . . . the rigorous wisdom of Gwendolyn Brooks...the chiseled modernism of Robert Hayden...the extraordinary prosody of Sterling A. Brown...the breathtaking, expansive narratives of Rita Dove...the plaintive rhapsodies of an imprisoned Elderidge Knight . . . The postmodern artistry of Yusef Komunyaka. Here, too, is a landmark exploration of lesser-known artists whose efforts birthed the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movementsand changed forever our national literature and the course of America itself.
Meticulously researched, thoughtfully structured, The Vintage Book of African-American Poetry is a collection of inestimable value to students, educators, and all those interested in the ever-evolving tradition that is American poetry.
This collection does a fine job of surveying the broad and diverse history of African American poetry. Major names are well represented, and new voices are also included, which many teachers and students may not have heard of yet, but will appreciate. There is a good balance of men and women, and I was especially impressed with the inclusion of many poets producing work before 1900. What makes special this collection special is the general introduction, along with the biographies that introduce the work of each poet. The introduction articulates clearly the history of African American poetry, and emphasizes the political and historical context of the poems. The editors then use the work of Sterling A. Brown as a model for investigating and understanding the work of each individual poet. Each biography provides basic facts and summary of the work, and also some evaluation of style, topic and form, which will help both students and teachers study and appreciate the poetry. There is no index, but there is an accessible, chronologically arranged table of contents at the beginning and a Selected Bibliographies section at the end. This is a valuable and inexpensive addition to all libraries, which will likely pique the interest of YA poets and non-poets alike. KLIATT Codes: JSARecommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Random House/Vintage, 403p, 21cm, 99-39428, $14.00. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Sarah Applegate; Libn., River Ridge H.S., Lacey, WA, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)